updated 10/04/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 10/04/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT
So saith the gospel according to Steven Spielberg, a flagrant but enchanting popcult parody of the Second Coming that became the biggest box office blockbuster since cinema was a gleam in Edison's eye—and introduced the most lovable animalcule since Disney reinvented the rodent. Confected of fiberglass and foam rubber and controlled by 11 technicians and electro-mechanisms, the hero of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial stood just over 3 ft. short, cost $1.5 million and looked like the winner of an Ugly Fireplug Contest. But a world beset with brain-boggling problems saw him as the first teddy bear from outer space and clutched the cuddly little fella to its troubled heart.
In seven years Spielberg's saga has twirled a world-record $715 million through the turnstiles, raked in roughly $2 billion from spin-off products (videocassettes to E.T. Ice Cream) and established its furrowed, waddling hero as the decade's unlikeliest superstar. Pigging out on Reese's Pieces, whooping it up with a six-pack of Coors, jiggering a heap of domestic junk into an intergalactic intercom, E.T. offered us a magical and hilarious second chance at childhood and made even jaded eyes well at the word "home." Yet in a darker vein the plight of this tiny stranger in a strange land reminded us, as we jogged through a decade of global hypertension and rampaging materialism, that what the world needs now is a damn sight more of another grand old four-letter word. And a sequel called E.T.C.